Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

G-Money & The Fabulous Rhythm Kids


Mark Hunter

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 30, 2005

Heads Up! This article is 17 years old.

Ask G-Money about his role as host of the

All-Star Blues Jam, the weekly gathering of local

and regional blues musicians and fans held each

Monday night at Mid City Grill, the first thing

out of his mouth is a gentle caveat – say what

you will about G-Money’s All Star Blues Jam, just

don’t slight his bandmates in the Fabulous Rhythm

Kids.

In fact, his concern over the recognition, or

lack of it, afforded the Fabulous Rhythm Kids by

the local music press tends to pop up no matter

what the topic. Fabulous Rhythm Kids bass player

Mark Stein voiced the same concern to me recently

at a gig.

The problem, as Stein and G-Money point out, has

to do with Money getting nominated for and

winning a Whammy for best R&B performer this

year, while FRK got zilch. Without delving into

the mechanics of the nominating process at

whatzup headquarters, of which I have only

the vaguest conception anyway, it would seem that

G-Money got nominated for his work with the

All-Stars Blues Jam. As I discovered, the

Fabulous Rhythm Kids play from a song list based

on R&B, but with a quirky dose of rock n’

roll thrown in and would certainly fit within the

amoeba-like R&B order. But we could spend all

day debating music taxonomy. What’s the point?

Right. What’s the point? The point is G-Money

gets recognized, and FRK bandmates Stein, Dave

Zych and Scott Byler don’t. On the other hand,

G-Money’s recognition factor is one reason the

band hired him in the first place.

Many musicians get the bug to play early on from

their parents, either listening to records their

parents had, music parties they had, or a

combination of both. G-Money, whose given name is

Gary Rabson, is no different. “I started at my

mother’s house parties when I was about five

singing James Brown,” he said. But it was the

Isley Brothers’ 1973 hit “Who’s That Lady” that

really inspired him. “That was the first song

that really made me want to play guitar.”

He got what he wanted. G-Money has been in

numerous local bands over the past decade or so.

During the 1980s and 90s he played guitar with

Neutral Zone, the G-Money Band and for a time a

few years ago was lead singer for the Joey O

Band. But it was around 1996 at Jimmy G’s Hot

Spot on Fairfield and that G-Money’s star began

to rise. For a town with a slew of talented blues

musicians, Fort Wayne has been a notoriously hard

sell when it comes to keeping quality blues clubs

alive. In short order the Hot Spot became the

gathering place for blues musicians. Owner Jim

Gephart started bringing in big-name blues

players from around the country. Local blue

musicians organized a weekly blues jam hosted by

Bill Lupkin. Blues players would show up on

Monday nights and jam. G-Money was among them.

Gephart said G-Money was around a lot.

“Gary started playing at the Hot Spot with the

G-Money Band,” Gephart said. “That was a big

band. With the blues jams, Gary came down and

played a lot. He worked a lot with all those

guys, trying to help them. He always worked very

hard to improve himself.”

But what Gephart saw in G-Money as sincere

effort and enthusiasm, others found off-putting.

“Some people thought he was cocky, but I never

met a good guitar player who wasn’t. I didn’t

have a problem with it.”

Lupkin tired of hosting the jams, so Gephart

looked to G-Money to take the reins. It was a

good choice. “Gary and I had a good

relationship,” Gephart said. “He worked hard, and

he never failed me. I never had to worry about my

stage when he was running it. I’ve always

supported him. He’s improved himself and worked

really hard. He tries his damnedest to put on a

hell of a show. I’ll always support him any way I

can.”

On any given Monday Mid City Grill sizzles with

hot blues players. Seasoned professionals like

Lee Lewis and Kenny Garr, who tour with Blind Pig

Recording artist Harper when the Australian harmonica

player hits the road in the U.S. each summer, and

Indianapolis guitarist Governor Davis trade licks

with amateurs and players who have the chops to

go pro if the opportunity should arise. And

G-Money runs it all. Sitting on a stool near the

stage with a microphone in his hand, G-Money

calls out names of players according to some

design of sound he has in his head. Some players

don’t get picked as soon as they think they

should and get mad. Others bask in the brief

spotlight.

Following his Whammy win, I talked with G-Money

about hosting the jams. I told him the job looks

tough. He said it is. “It’s a hard job because on

any given night I have to please the musicians

and I also have to keep the music interesting for

the people who are there to listen and have a

good time. It doesn’t always work that way.

Sometimes I have to be the bad guy. I try to be

gracious and polite, but someone will always feel

that G-Money is a so and so. I’m really trying to

handle it well. I still look forward to Monday

nights.”

For Stein, Zych, and Byler, the attention

G-Money gets could be a source of bad vibes, but

it’s not. Stein said any ill-feeling stems not

from G-Money, but from the press.

“We’re glad he won (the Whammy),” Stein told me

during a break at a recent Fabulous Rhythm Kids

gig. “Nobody’s jealous of it. whatzup’s

ignoring the band. That’s what we think.”

Stein, who said he learned to play the blues by

going to Jimmy G’s Hot Spot, welcomes the

attention G-Money brings to the band. “We’re not

bugged at all by it. That’s what G was hired to

do, to get us some attention, and for his guitar

work. I think he’s afraid someone might get

jealous, that he might get too much recognition.

We’re not afraid of him overpowering us.”

They shouldn’t be. As a band, the Fabulous

Rhythm Kids click. Their wide-ranging set lists

(on nights I saw them play, songs ranged from

Steely Dan’s “Josie,” to Van Morrison’s

“Brown-Eyed Girl,” to Led Zeppelin’s “When the

Levee Breaks” – and any band that can pull off

that song credibly, which the Fabulous Rhythm

Kids do, is doing all right) don’t focus on any

one player. They take turns singing lead, playing

solos and taking supporting roles. G-Money may be

G-Money at the blues jams, but with the Fabulous

Rhythm Kids, he’s just one of four good players

having a good time. And that’s how G-Money wants

it.

“With the Fabulous Rhythm Kids it’s not about

ego; it’s about ‘we-go.’ We’re just trying to

pull everything together and give it to the

crowd.”

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